On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
If you recognize the author’s name, it’s probably because of her first book, The Hate U Give. It was also adapted into a movie that came out last year. THUG was very good, but On the Come Up was as good and in my opinion, maybe ever better. I think I read it in one day over spring break.
It’s set in the same neighborhood as THUG, and there are a few references to its events, but neither Starr or Khalid are ever named. Brianna, the girl on the cover, is trying to make it as a rapper, and it was really cool seeing how her mind jumped between thoughts and words and created in a space of a few moments amazing freestyle rhymes that are actually in the book.
Like THUG, there’s still the themes of speaking up, family (Brianna’s relationship with her mom and her brother might be my favorite part), gang violence, broken neighborhoods, best friends, another boy, complete unjustness, the misconceptions and audience media creates, and being yourself first. On the Come Up also speaks more on money-specifically the absence of it-no food in the refridgerator, shoes falling apart, food stamps. There’s the contrast between people living honestly and not being able to have heat in the house and other people selling drugs and a lack of money not being a problem.
All fiction is based on some kind of reality, but sometimes things get lost in translation. That does not happen in this book. Brianna feels real, a hundred percent.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
I rarely read mystery books, but I checked this book out from the library because I saw a movie adaptation was coming out this year for it, but it has now been pushed to next year. Also, Agatha Christie is so famous and has written so many books that in the back of my mind, reading one of her books has always been something that I’ve wanted to try.
I don’t think I will be reading another one, but I thought Death on the Nile was good. In the beginning, she introduces all the characters (which there were quite a few of), so that was a little hard to keep straight at first (and in the middle too), but then once the plot started, whoa. The mystery was really good and I would never have been able to solve it.
The main reason I think I liked this book even though I usually don’t like mysteries is because this book was as much character driven as plot driven. I’ve seen the writing quote somewhere that says something like, treat all your secondary characters like they’re the main character, and Agatha Christie completely does that. She makes them all memorable and interesting, and every one of them has storylines. Also, there would sometimes be these sentences that just commented perfectly on human nature and life, and it was always unexpected and great. For example:
“You know, she’s simply thrilled by it all. It’s probably the only exciting thing that has ever happened to her, and probably the only exciting thing that ever will happen to her. But she’s so nice that she’s terribly ashamed of enjoying it. She thinks it’s awful of her.”
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
Wow. This book. I talked about wanting to read it all the way back in November of last year, but I wasn’t able to until last month because of all the holds on it at the library. Here’s my thoughts from my previous to-be-read post:
I heard about this book from Episode 157: The stories behind the stories we love to read of What Should I Read Next? In that podcast episode, the author talks about how she realized her family had a far greater and more interesting story than she realized and how this book came to be because of it. We Were the Lucky Ones is historical fiction, but it basically isn’t. The only reason why Georgia Hunter chose for it to be historical instead of non-fiction was so she could make the story come to life by doing things like writing thoughts and feelings into the characters and details into the setting. The story itself is fully true.
And the story is crazy and beautiful. See this statistic Georgia Hunter included at the beginning of the book:
By the end of the Holocaust, 90 percent of Poland’s three million Jews were annihilated; of the more than thirty thousand Jews who lived in Radom, fewer than three hundred survived.
Among those three hundred, an entire family survived-father, mother, five children, their five spouses, and one grandchild. All of them. Beyond that, like in Death on the Nile, there were these sentences that just made you stop-some because they bound grief into words and some because they captured the lightness midst the grief.
As the weeks and the months pass, the agony of wondering what has become of his family worsens. Some days it erases his appetite and fills his gut with a dull ache that lingers through the night. Other days, it wraps around his chest like a strand of steel wire and he’s sure that at any moment the flesh will sever, shredding his heart into pieces.
“We felt so old there,” she says. “The others were practically children. You should have heard the gossip-I’ve fallen in love…she isn’t even pretty…he hasn’t spoken to me in days-the jealousy, the drama; I had forgotten how exhausting it was to be that young. Although,” she confides, lowering her voice and leaning into Halina, “sometimes it was quite entertaining.”
What are you reading? Right now I’m reading Silk Parachute-it’s a collection of essays by John McPhee, who I’ve heard a lot of great things about. They’re interesting and his writing is unique (in one essay, he went from chalk to wine to dinosaurs and then back to chalk), but it’s not my favorite I think. Books on deck right now include Internment (dystopian US, Muslim internment camps like the Japanese camps during World War II), Far Away (middlegrade, family, secrets), and The Warmth of Other Suns (narrative non-fiction, African American history).
Have you seen Captain Marvel? I thought it was pretty good, but not great. I did really like all the backstory threads they connected, and the villan plot was interesting. Also, Goose was the best part right?
What genres do you read the most, and which ones are very out of your comfort zone?